Predictions from the Past: New York 2012 and LA 2013

New York in 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner’s Predictions; and LA’s predictions from 1988 for 2013

Throughout history, people have spent a great deal of time pondering what the future holds.  Scientific discovery and technological innovation – along with rebellious androids, zombies, flying cars, hover crafts, visiting aliens – have been consistently used as stereotypes that emerge in predictions for our imagined future.  And while Hollywood was busy exploring dystopian scenarios of this near-future, architects were composing utopian images of an optimistic vision for cities.

Architects have built careers upon predicting what cities can potentially become – developing forms, functions, plans and visions of possibilities in the social, political, economic and realms through architecture. In 1962, Mayor Robert Wagner of NYC predicted a culturally diverse, economically viable, global city for New York in 2012.  In 1988, Los Angeles Times Magazine gave its 25-year forecast for in 2013, predicting what a life for a family would be like, filled with robots, electric cars, smart houses and an abundance of video-conferencing. Find out how their predictions fared after the break.

Exhibition for Frank Gehry Prints and Sculpture

© Chris Santa Maria

On view now until April 13, is the Stamberg Aferiat + Associates designed exhibition for Frank Gehry prints and a sculpture for the -based artists’ workshop Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl in . The exhibition celebrates architecture, a more than ten-year collaboration with the renowned architect, and their one-year anniversary in a designed space by architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat. The exhibit features a newly editioned sculpture and an enlarging of Gehry’s Marques de Riscal Winery image. More images and description of the exhibition after the break.

Air: A Hot Commodity in New York City

The air rights to 140 West 58th Street were bought by the developer of the 90-story One57. Image via The Times

“There’s a price on everything in New York, and the air is no exception.” - Ross F. Moskowitz, Strock & Strock & Lavan

All of us are familiar with the practice of buying and selling property in the form of land, residential and commercial space, but the buying and selling of the air surrounding these spaces is a concept well-understood by few. With the recovery of the condominium market in , residential development is at an all-time high, and this means taller and even more luxurious towers are fighting each other tooth and nail for the best possible views of the city. Because of this, the price of air above and around these potential developments is becoming more and more expensive, since a room with a view is worth a whole lot more than one without. Is it possible that these empty, vertical pockets are now worth more than the ground below them?

Read more about New York City’s air rights to find out.

Postcard from Roosevelt Island, New York

© Hassan Bagheri

This text was provided by San Francisco-based writer Kenneth Caldwell. Photos by Hassan Bagheri.

One friend said, “It looks a bit austere.” At first glance, it probably is. But like so many great minimal environments, it asks for patience and generosity. You give, and in turn it gives back.

This is also what the artists Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Donald Judd, and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson ask. Trust them with your time and you may be rewarded with a small measure of serenity—perhaps even with the connection between art and the divine that Dominique de Menil was so focused on.

Designed by Louis Kahn, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park is an outdoor sanctuary at the southern tip of what is now called , created as a memorial to FDR. The park opened last fall. Kahn’s gift took 40 years to be realized, but it presents a path for human beings to treat each other to peace.

Continue reading after the break…

‘Frank Gehry At Work’ Exhibition

Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Feely Fine Art, LLC.

On display at Leslie Feely Fine Art in from April 11 to June 30, 2013, the Frank Gehry At Work exhibition features a selection of over 30 diverse process models by Gehry, which are drawn from significant constructions and concepts of the architect’s prolific career. These organic forms, which consist of a wide array of materials, stand as testament to Gehry’s tactile approach, enhancing our perception of this sculptural architect and his work,  illuminating the subtleties of Gehry’s thought—and working—process. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

Beyond New York: Organic vs Geometrical Context Lecture

Basket Apartments in Paris by OFIS Architects / © Tomaz Gregoric

Coming up this Friday, March 8th, at the Center for Architecture in New York, the ‘Beyond New York: Organic vs Geometrical Context’ lecture is part of the Architecture Dialogue Committee’s on-going series to introduce the next generation of architects not practicing in . For this event, they have invited Spela Videcnik from OFIS arhitekti of Ljubljana, Slovenia to share insights about architectural and urban design from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Videcnik, who is currently teaching Architectural Design at Harvard’s GSD, will present OFIS’s design approach through their most recently built projects, such as the Basket Apartments (Paris) and The Centre for Space Technologies (Slovenia), and how these different geometries inform their current work. For more information, please visit here.

Queens Museum of Art Expansion / Grimshaw Architects

Courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum of Art

Originally constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair, the resilient structure of ’s Queens Museum of Art has been undergoing its fourth and most ambitious renovation since April 2011. This $68 million renovation, designed by Grimshaw Architects, will double the institution’s size, expanding the museum to a total of 105,000 square feet upon its completion in October 2013.

Landfill Reclamation: Fresh Kills Park Develops as a Natural Coastal Buffer and Parkland for Staten Island

Courtesy of Department of Parks and Recreation – Draft Master Plan

Every has an “aftershock” in which we realize the fragility of our planet and the vulnerability of what we have built and created.  We realize the threat to our lifestyles and the flaws in our design choices.  The response to Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 was no different than the response to every other hurricane, earthquake, tornado , tsunami or monsoon that has wrought devastation in different parts of the world.  We recognize our impact on the climate and promise to address how our development has caused severe disruptions in the planet’s self-regulating processes.   We acknowledge how outdated our systems of design have become in light of these damaging weather patterns and promise to change the way we design cities, coastlines and parks.  We gradually learn from our mistakes and attempt to redress them with smarter choices for more sustainable and resilient design.  Most importantly, we realize that we must learn from how natural processes self-regulate and apply these conditions to the way in which we design and build our urban spaces.

Since Hurricane Sandy, early considerations of environmentalists, planners and designers have entered the colloquial vocabulary of politicians in addressing the issues of the United States’ North Atlantic Coast.  There are many issues that need to be tackled in regards to environmental development and urban design.  One of the most prominent forces of Hurricane Sandy was the storm surge that pushed an enormous amount of ocean salt water far inland, flooding whole neighborhoods in New Jersey, submerging most of Manhattan’s southern half, destroying coastal homes along Long Island and the Rockaways, and sweeping away parts of Staten Island.  Yet, despite the tremendous damage, there was a lot that we learned from the areas that resisted the hurricane’s forces and within those areas are the applications that we must address for the rehabilitation and development of these vulnerable conditions. Ironically, one of the answers lies within Fresh Kills – Staten Island’s out-of-commission landfill, which was the largest landfill in the United States until it was shutdown in 2001.  Find out how after the break.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro Designs Telescopic ‘Culture Shed’ for New York

Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and

The expandable multi-use cultural venue dubbed ‘Culture Shed’ is one of the most radical proposals to come out of New York’s Hudson Yards Development Project. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro - the New York-based interdisciplinary practice that played a major role in designing the High Line - in collaboration with the Rockwell Group, this 170,000 square foot cultural center will be located at the south end of the , with the main entrance located near the conclusion of the High Line at West 30th Street.

More information on the Culture Shed after the break…

Where Does Zoning Fit Into Our Future City Planning?

NYC.GOV – Department of Planning

“Let’s dump the word “zoning,” as in zoning ordinances that govern how land is developed and how buildings often are designed. Land-use regulation is still needed, but zoning increasingly has become a conceptually inappropriate term, an obsolete characterization of how we plan and shape growth.” - Roger K. Lewis 

Zoning, a concept just over a century old, is already becoming an outdated system by which the government regulates development and growth.  Exceptions and loopholes within current zoning legislation prove that city planning is pushing a zoning transformation that reflects the current and future goals and needs of city building.  To determine how zoning and needs to evolve we must first assess the intentions of future city building.  

Planners, architects, legislators and community activists have already begun establishing guidelines and ordinances that approach the goals of and livability.  For example, the AIA has established Local Leaders: Healthier Communities through Design and has made a commitment to the Decade of Design: Global Solutions Challenge. New York City has come up with Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design and its Zone Green initiative in regards to updating its zoning resolution. In addition, Philadelphia has augmented its zoning to include urban farms and community gardens and it is safe to assume that many other cities will follow this precedent.  

So what is it about current zoning codes that makes it so outdated?  Follow us after the break for more.

NYC’s Union Square in 1828

‘Painting the Town’ via Business Insider

Can you imagine the intersection of Broadway and the Bowery in lower as sparsely populated “Uptown” used as a burial ground for indigent people? Well, according to the the book Painting the Town by The Museum of the City of New York (via Ephemeral New York), this scene painted from memory by Albertis Del Orient Browere in 1885 depicts what Union Square used to look like back in 1828 – just 20 years before this area started to transform into the bustling, concrete jungle we know today. 

Compare it to an updated photo of Union Square after the break. 

‘White Noise’ YAP MoMA PS1 Proposal / French 2Design

Courtesy of

White Noise (or The Buzz) reveals the latent potential of the community. It is the sound of the talent and value around us. The harnesses this latent value with an interactive sound environment (a collaboration with ARUP Acoustics) embedded in a playful series of figural abstractions, clad with white synthetic turf. The foregrounded backdrop of the architecture highlights the project’s main event, sharing and exchange among the people in the space, and manipulates readings of scale.

100 Norfolk Street / ODA

Courtesy of

Designed by ODA, 100 Norfolk Street expresses the unlimited potential and ambition hidden in the New York Block as it stands significantly taller than its neighbors. Located within the Lower east side , the design creates a rather unusual condition, a mid-block – freestanding building overlooking the area, offering strong light exposure for the interior residential spaces and direct views of Downtown, Midtown and the Williamsburg Bridge. More images and architects’ description after the break.

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio: New York City’s Plan for Flood Barrier Along East River

East River Blueway Plan / WXY Studio

The City of New York has long awaited renovations to the East River Greenway. Squeezed between the FDR Drive to the west and the river to East, there are a few scattered public parks connected by a path that has been weathered and torn apart over the years. The proposed “Blueway” is a coordinated collaboration – between Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Community Boards 3 and 6, State Assembly Member Brian Kavanaugh, and New York’s WXY architecture and urban design - that takes suggestions from the general public to develop a scheme that works within the framework of the existing Greenway and provides specific sites waterfront access, development of wetlands and greater connectivity to the city and its waterways.

The stretch along the Greenway, which is the focus of WXY’s scheme, runs from Midtown East at 38th street to the Brooklyn Bridge. Running along the FDR, this area expands towards the river and finds its way under the highway’s overpass. Unlike the Hudson River Parkway along the West Side Highway, the East River Greenway has meager waterfront access and few piers to facilitate its development.  A study, executed by several city departments in 2011, determined ways to improve amenities along the Greenway and proposed incorporating elements such as ambient lighting and street furniture.  Now the focus has shifted to the river itself to determine ways in which to increase its usability and accessibility   After Hurricane Sandy revealed the vulnerability of the hard edge of the East River, these same design considerations are now being used to create a resistant and effective buffer against future storm surges.

See what’s happening at the East River Blueway Plan after the break.

Situ Studio’s ‘Heartwalk’ Opens in Times Square

© Ka-Man Tse, Times Square Alliance

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Situ Studio has unveiled the fifth edition of Times Square’s annual Heartwalk installation – a heart-shaped “room within the city” made of salvaged Sandy debris. Inspired by the “collective experience of and the love that binds people together during trying times,” Heartwalk begins as two weathered ribbons of wooden planks that gradually lift to form an illuminated heart enclosure in the middle of Duffy Square.

People are already falling in love, as you can see Instagram’s #heartwalktsq is filling up with images of elated New Yorkers standing within the “heart of ”.

More images after the break…

Governor Cuomo’s Solution for Ravaged Homes in NYC’s Coastal Region

© Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

After months of debate, the United States Congress has passed a bill that will allocate $51 billion to Hurricane Sandy relief helping the thousands who lost their homes and businesses to the devastating storm last October.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $400 million of the aid will be used to fund New York’s buyout program, an initiative to help address the damaged homes and coastline.  The program is two-fold; in part it will help reimburse the property damage caused by the storm, but the initiative has a larger goal, which is to address the nature of coastal flooding and create a barrier that would mitigate the damage created to the coast by storm surges in the .  Since the storm, there have been many suggestions as to how to prepare for the type of damage brought on by Hurricane Sandy of 2012 and Hurricane Irene of 2011.  These suggestions range from flood gates to barrier reefs. Cuomo’s buyout program, as reported by the Architect’s Newspaper Blog, hopes to encourage residents along vulnerable flood zones to sell their land to the city for the development of a natural coast that would absorb the impact of strong winds and storm surges.

More after the break…

BIG’s West 57th “Pyramid” Wins Final Approval

Courtesy of

After an “arduous” public review and a heated debate over affordable , New York’s City Council has unanimously awarded final approval to BIG’s tetrahedral-shaped West 57th apartment building in Manhattan. As reported by Crain’s New York Business, a compromise has been made to include 173 affordable housing units within the 32-story, 750-unit residential building and the neighboring industrial building that will be converted into 100 additional rental apartments. As you may recall, the community board and Councilwoman Gail Brewer initially threatened to “torpedo the project” if the apartments were only made affordable for a 35 year period. However, Durst apparently won them over by contributing one million dollars into an affordable housing fund.

“The good news, which is the mantra of my office and community board No. 4, is there will be, yes, by law, 35 years of income-restricted affordable housing,” stated City Councilwoman Brewer, who represents the area.

Foster Responds to Kimmelman’s “Offensive” Diatribe Regarding the New York Public Library

The ’s (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for Norman Foster, as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect.

More on Kimmelman’s critique and Foster’s response after the break…